Since it is July 4th I figured I would post about Juneteenth. The 4th of July’s significance is not significant for my ancestors.
On Juneteenth I traveled home to Maryland from North Carolina to be with my parents. I took this opportunity to reclaim my time and to fill it with love, familiarity, and Blackness. I live in Western North Carolina and decided to take a quicker route that would take me soley across the mountains all the way into Maryland.
I felt anxiety when I had to stop for any traffic light as I traveled through rural towns with visibly low diversity. As the roads got lonelier and more rural, I speculated about the little shacks that could have been the quarters of the enslaved. I know some mountain folks helped those escaping enslavement along the underground railroad. However, how many of those folks who live there may be holding onto racial prejudice today? Not knowing if my skin color made me a welcomed person in those communities is what caused the bulk of my anxiety.
I prayed for no mishaps that would cause me to stop. Just a few days post
my trip, I was unfortunately validated in my already valid anxiety when I learned of a horrible case of a Black women being hit with acid while sitting in her vehicle at a stoplight just for being Black.
While traveling, I also I thought about the ways those towns are seemingly shut off from diversity. Where they raise kids who are shut off from diversity who later migrate to more diverse towns for education and life. Where their lack of correct education on racial injustice and true justice is even more dangerous for those who unknowingly cross their paths of microaggressions, covert, and overt racism.
I thought about what I am grateful for as a Black person in America in 2020 in comparison to my ancestors who literally in every aspect of life fought to survive whether through rebellion or forced submission. I thought of the shift I feel with the current movements toward Black liberation as well as movement toward liberation for other areas of marginalization. This is a dangerous time but is also a time that screams liberation or else.
I thought about the ways we are still living in the invisible chains that white supremacy has created. Even the ways in which colonization of our minds isn't always apparent.
I thought about the ways white folks don’t have to be anxious at a stop light because of the color of their skin.
I thought about the love, calm, and comfort that was waiting for me in Maryland. I thought of the grace of the Lord to allow me the ability to get there.
I thought about the racial trauma healing space I held for students on the day prior to Juneteenth and the rich discussions we are able to have about colonialism, imposter syndrome, white fragility, and the emotional labor that is expected of Black people born from the history of this country. It was painful at times but also validating to share each-others pain, frustration, and laughter.
I am thankful we can have those conversations and sad we have to narrate an experience that we are living everyday. We aren't simply reflecting on history or times of the past.
I also thought about the thin line between white tears and white rage. They are fruit of the same tree, with the same taste yet different textures. Fruit we are often forced to swallow just because we exist with awareness of self and community. Just as our ancestors had to we are forced to know the impact of our Blackness and to know the impact of their whiteness. Both have been perspectives needed in order to survive. While others outside of our skin only have to be aware of the self.
It took me a while to write this post. This past week, I listened to some Black student athletes speak on their experiences at the PWI I work at. They emphasized the fact that we are not just bodies. I am sitting with the ways our ancestors were not just bodies. The ways my children will not be just bodies. Yet our humanness isn't given the fullest value and acceptance that it should be against a backdrop of orchestrated whiteness and oppression.
We are reclaiming our whole selves as valuable without transaction. We are reclaiming the right to hold ya’ll accountable for the crimes committed against our humanity past, present, and God forbid in the future.